Artist/Fisherman’s Smock

I am still hollygagging about trying to decide what I really want to make for myself in my daily half hours. I know I want it to be autumnal. I think it will probably be a jacket. I quite like the idea of a cape – but don’t want to end up looking like Batman. Oh dear – decisions, decisions.

Artists smock

Artists smock

Whilst I was in a mental muddle I had a job from a client to make  a copy of an artists smock. I loved how useful and easy it was, so I made another for me. The original was made in a cotton twill but I decided to make this in my cotton baby cord in a lovely chocolate brown. I suspect that I am going to use this quite a lot as the weather starts to cool.

The pattern was very easy to make and I have included my workings here for you.  I have not allowed for any seams or hems, or the turning on the top of the pockets so don’t forget to add that onto your pattern. I overlocked all the pieces before I made this up as it was much easier than trying to catch all the edges of the gussets! (Call me  lazy if you want).

Artists smock

Neckline/collar detail


I sewed the pockets and attached them to the front piece, then sewed the shoulder seams , then worked the neckline by sewing the collar piece into a loop and then to the neck edge (collar seam to the CB), then turning it in and sewing inside to secure it (I overlocked the raw edge and left it out but you could make a turn and ‘stitch in the ditch’ from outside). Stitching the top edge makes it look a bit crisper if you want to do that.

Centre the top of the sleeves over the shoulder seam and sew in place – leave the seam allowance free to enable you to insert the underarm gusset more easily. Sew the gusset into place – I used the marks on the main body/sleeves to guide me and sewed so that I could see the point I needed to stitch up to. When you have all four gusset seams completed  sew the sleeve seam, and then the body seam.

All you need to do now is to turn up a hem on both sleeve and body. Done!

In addition to this top the management asked me to knit more little hats for the Innocent Smoothie fundraiser for this year. Everyone in his office is knitting some and he didn’t want not to contribute. I think I may teach him to knit before next year! If you want to join in with this campaign check out their website. They are really easy to knit and raise money for Age UK.

My Innocent Hats

My Innocent Hats for 2012

Maybe I will work out what I really want to make soon – it would be nice to have something new that actually suited the season!

P.S. Bessie will be wearing the top for a little while. She is a bit upset at being found ‘naked’ by a client who remarked ‘That’s a big girl!’. I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was ‘me’ (I wonder if she has worked it out yet?). The diet starts …….whenever the chocolate runs out.

27 Comments on “Artist/Fisherman’s Smock”

  1. Jenny says:

    Hi there
    I have been looking for a pattern for a fisherman/artist smock for years and was delighted to find one online! I love the fabric you’ve made it with. I’ve been wanting to make one out of fleece for quite sometime. Baby cord maybe another project though!
    Just wondering what size this will come up or whether it’s down to seam allowance?

    • Hi Jenny
      There are no seam allowances included on my diagram so you would need to add them. Having said that, the top is a generous 134 cm/ 52″ around the body so if you use a tape measure to check what that looks like on your own bod you will be able to see what adjustments you need to make.
      Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need to.

  2. Mike Eaton says:

    To hell with the diet – big girls have (and are) more fun besides which how can you cuddle up to a stick insect?

  3. Oscar says:

    Hi Kim, thanks a lot for sharing this, I have been trying to find Cornish smock patterns for a while as well. I am doing some research as well on the origin of this pattern and maybe you can help. I have heard that the reason for this simple pattern (only straight cuts) is that it was so that there are no off cuts lefts on the fabric and therefore no waste. Do you know if this is true? Thank you very much.

    • Sorry Oscar but I can’t give you any more information about the smock. I is economical with fabric, as so many ‘folk wear’ patterns are (Irish bog coat is an example) so that may be right. Good luck researching.

  4. jay says:

    Looks like the perfect cool weather garment!

  5. Christine Burgess says:

    Just to add that I too am making a fisherman’s smock but I have 2 that I purchased from Yarmo in Yarmouth, Norfolk. I am using these as a pattern but making mine longer. There are no under arm gussets in my ones.
    I understand that originally they were made from old sails and hand sewn with a sail needle and a ‘palm’ a gadget like a flat thimble strapped round your hand. . I think the pattern can be cut out from a square of fabric. The dark red and natural colourways originating from the traditional sail colours. Yarmo as a firm started many years ago selling their work ware garments to fishermen. They sold at fishing ports from a Drifter coastal sail boat, following the Herring Fleets up the east coast. Most other fishing areas made smocks which were worn over woolen jerseys to keep out the wet and make them windproof. Sleeves were shorter and tight to stop water getting in. Fishing type smocks had no pockets which would collect rain water or snag. Pockets evolved from requests by artists and sculptors who started the trend of wearing smocks in St Ives, Cornwall, purchasing their smocks from fishermen.
    My Yarmo smocks proved to be ideal to wear standing around in all weathers, when I sold at Farmers Markets.

    • I can see how useful this garments would be at a market. The gussets aren’t essential, but if you plan anything where a lot of movement is needed they really help.

    • Mike Eaton says:

      Considering the weight of material in a cotton sail I doubt if the smock would be made from an old sail unless it was very very old -by then it would be ready to fall apart! Made from Cotton duck possibly but an actual luggers sail, I doubt it! Made by hand of course, probably made by the fisherman himself thus only sail needles would be used and of course with no pockets or anything else that could snag – when shooting (laying) the fishing gear it went out that fast if you got “snagged” you go out with it and be on the seabed before you knew it, especially with the usual thing boots that fishermen wore/wear!

  6. Sally says:

    Thank you. Like the first comment, I have looked everywhere for this pattern. I haven’t the heart to deconstruct my old one for a pattern.

  7. Sue S says:

    Sorry if I am being a bit dim – but I can’t follow how to make the underarm gussets. Any chance you could run through it again with a little more detail for me? Many thanks!

    • It has been a while since I made this so I will work out a good explanation and email it to you soon.

      • Jo says:

        Could you email me in on that too? I can’t work out where the gussets go either!!! Many thanks!

        • Mike Eaton says:

          now that sounds a fantastic idea – some of us need a fairly basic set up – I’m sure this is looking at it but at the moment! Guess tis being brave enough to pick up the scissors and start cutting!

  8. […] I put my original post out in blogland with the pattern to make this smock I have probably had more blog hits with […]

  9. Lesley says:

    Hi Just made this. I had always wanted to make a fisherman’s smock. Your pattern is great, thank you. I had never done the gusset thing before, but did manage to suss it. I think I will be using this pattern again and again.

  10. Pam says:

    Looks a great pattern and I cant wait to try it but I too need more info about the gusset and a sketch of the shape would be most useful
    thankyou Pam

    • If you click on ‘How I’ in the cloud on the right it should give you a post I did about making an artists smock which I hope will answer any questions you have.

  11. Pam Ford says:

    I’ve been searching for a pattern for a smock..No luck yet.Can anyone help ?..
    Thanks in advance…Pam Ford. X

  12. Silke says:

    I love the simple drawing you give, but I can’t imagine how to sew in the gussets! Could you help me with this? Thank you so much for this beautiful sewing project 🙂

  13. Georgia says:

    This is a fantastic resource, you’ve just saved me £90 (I was going to buy one from Carrier Co.) and now I understand this garment I can adapt it too. I made mine in a slightly stretch denim and it’s gorgeous, I’ll be doing a boiled wool one now I know the fit is right for me. This came up at a generous 14, perfect for me, many many thanks!

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